India is seeking to remove the size restriction on vessels plying between India and Bangladesh under the coastal shipping agreement signed between the two neighbours in June 2015 as the pact comes up for renewal next year.
The coastal shipping pact currently permits vessels of up to 6,000 gross tonnage (GT) to ply due to size restrictions mandated by the River-Sea Vessel (RSV) rules framed separately by India’s Directorate General of Shipping and the Department of Shipping, Bangladesh. This is because, Article II of the pact, signed on June 6, 2015, covers only Indian and Bangladeshi flag vessels that comply with RSV or equivalent standards to run services between the two countries.
The RSV category was agreed upon by both the countries because of its lower construction and operation costs without compromising on the safety of the vessel.
India’s Shipping Ministry now feels that “the restriction on vessel size should be dictated by the route itself and not separately by tonnage”. For instance, ships operating between Chennai and Chittagong, commercially provide cost effective service deploying larger ships.
Currently, there is no restriction for vessels complying with international standards to trade between India and Bangladesh. However, the coastal shipping agreement permits lower standard only to trade between the two countries.